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Our survival is up to us

By Grace Lee Boggs

This week, in Doha, Qatar, on the Persian Gulf, delegates to COP18, the U.N. Framework on Climate Change, are discussing the urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions if we and our planet are to survive.

Youth-led street march in Doha, Qatar.

Outside the conference, hundreds of Arabs from the newly formed Arab Youth Climate Movement are calling on delegates to take action , getting governments and leaders to submit voluntary pledges for emission mitigation targets and take concrete steps towards a binding future agreement in Doha and a second commitment of Kyoto protocol to start in 2013.

Inside, no targets are being set.

The reality facing the delegates and the world is that global emissions and the global temperature continue to rise. And unless the average global temperature rise is stabilized at 2 degrees Celsius by 2020 from a 2005 base level, people all over the world face increasingly catastrophic weather, more droughts, more wildfires and more hurricanes. The Doha conferees are hoping governments will take steps to reduce emissions. China has pledged a considerable reduction. The U.S. also has a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. In January 2010 after the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the United States pledged to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020, relative to the 2005 baseline.

But we can’t and shouldn’t depend on China or the U.S government.

Instead we should be inspired by the Arab Youth Movement to take accelerated action at the ground level.

In every classroom from kindergarten to graduate school, in every household, every neighborhood, every congregation, we the people can and must begin taking steps to reduce carbon emissions.

It will mean growing our own food instead of depending on produce shipped from factory farms thousands of miles away.

It will mean producing our needs in neighborhood workshops instead of purchasing them at box stores.

It will mean a lot of walking and biking instead of driving.

It will mean giving up Black Fridays.

In other words, it will mean making the radical revolution of values or the cultural revolution that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for in his 1967 “Break the Silence” speech.

All these steps at the ground level are possible and necessary.

We can live more simply so that we and future generations can simply live.

We can do it! Yes, we can!

Contact Grace Lee Boggs at boggscenter@boggscenter.org

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